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NOAA GRAV-D and UAS Programs Brief DOI’s UAS Users Group

NOAA Brief’s Department of Interior’s (DOI) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Users Group on Successful Optionally Pilot Aircraft (OPA) Flights for GRAV-D Missions.

The NOAA GRAV-D and UAS Programs briefed DOI’s UAS Users Group on the successful use of the Aurora Flight Sciences’ Centaur Optionally Pilot Aircraft (OPA), Flights for GRAV-D Missions.  On August 2nd, Monica Youngman and John “JC” Coffey described the beginnings of the project as a NOAA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant in 2013. 

Aurora Flight Sciences was selected for the SBIR with their Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA) and partnered with Micro-g Lacoste for the automated gravimeter development. The Phase I feasibility study involved miniaturizing the gravimeter, engineering the installation and integration into the platform, and proving that it would meet the specifications of the project.  The SBIR Phase II concluded with successful test flights in April 2016, and a successful Phase III Transition to Operations in March-April 2017.

The GRAV-D Team summarized that:

  • GRAV-D is collecting airborne gravity data over the entire country and territories by 2022 to provide the foundation for replacing the U.S. geopotential (vertical) datum
  • The project is on track at just over 63% complete
  • Successful Optionally Piloted Aircraft Survey
  • Improved surveying efficiency and data quality
  • Second surveying starting August 14th, 2017

Dr. Bruce Quirk hosts the DOI UAS Users Group which meets monthly to better coordinated DOI and Federal UAS efforts to maximize the efficiency and capabilities of unmanned systems across the agency.  Individual group’s strategies, roadmaps, projects and lessons learned are briefed to share best practices and increase inter-agency collaboration.

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